Apartment hunting can feel like a huge gamble: either you find a diamond in the rough, or you end up fixing mysterious leaks, trying to sleep with loud music blaring outside, or doing a double-take at the legalese in your lease.

Whether you’re a newbie to the hunt or you’re looking for the latest in a string of apartments, it’s easy to miss common pitfalls during the searching process. Here are a few apartment hunting mistakes to keep in mind as you search for your new home.


1. Thinking Every Lease Is the Same

When you’ve waded into the fast-paced world of apartment hunting, you may be in a rush to sign on the dotted line once you think you’ve found the right one. After all, “here today, gone tomorrow,” right?

Avoid the temptation to assume the best of the lease! Reading your lease in full can save you from nasty surprises in the future. If there’s any legalese you don’t understand, do your research or find an expert to help you.

2. Having Just One Roommate See the Apartment

Sure, it’s hard to match your schedule with your roommate’s, which makes it hard to coordinate apartment hunting. But even if you need to see the apartment separately, it’s critical that anyone who plans to move in sees the apartment before signing the lease.

Major decisions like a place to live shouldn’t come from a single person, as it’s a fast way to get into long-term squabbles and unhappiness. Instead, make sure you both (or all) agree that the place is right for your needs.

3. Putting Too Little Emphasis on the Commute

Finding an affordable place that everyone likes is always a huge win, but that’s not the only factor that should be involved in the decision.

Don’t forget to consider the length of your commute, location is always key. Being a great distance from work can cost you in time what your apartment saves you in money—and it can add a great deal of frustration to a long day at work. You should also factor in the costs of gas and car maintenance as well.

4. Going Over Your Budget

When you’re comparing apartment prices, it may be tempting to stack those perfect, pricey apartments a little higher on your list. But even when it feels like love at first sight, just remind yourself to stick to your budget.

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on rent, especially when you consider wiggle room for moving, emergencies, and other unexpected expenses.

5. Ignoring Pre-Existing Damage

Little signs of wear and tear are one thing, but serious imperfections are another. You might assume that your landlord won’t hold you responsible for pre-existing damage, but it’s important to take steps to ensure that’s the case. If you’re considering moving into a place with serious imperfections or damage, make sure to take time-stamped photos and work with your landlord to document them.

6. Assuming You’ll Have Cell Phone Data

Poor cell phone reception is still a thing, even in big cities. No matter what cell phone provider you’ve opted for, it’s important to make sure you have coverage where you live. Double-check the signal strength on your phone before you start weighing your decision.

7. Deciding to Hide Your Pet

Everyone thinks they have a quiet, well-behaved pet—until that pet ends up in a new apartment. If you’re considering an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, you should walk away right now. Apartments may have rules for pets for many reasons: they want to avoid damages, for example, or to provide an allergy-free place for all renters.

Bringing a pet with you after moving could give your landlord the legal right to ask you to remove the animal from your apartment, or even evict you in some cases. It’s not worth the risk!

8. Searching Questionable Listing Sites

If you’re hunting for an apartment in a specific area, it may be tempting to go off the grid and away from big-name, trustworthy websites. However, some shady sites offer opportunities for scam artists to rip you off by posting bad deals or even illegitimate listings.

Instead, opt for a quality local website with a variety of options available, like these apartment listings for the Miami area.

9. Opting Out of Renters’ Insurance

One critical thing many apartment hunters misunderstand is the idea of renters’ insurance. Just because your landlord has their own insurance on the property doesn’t mean you and your apartment will be covered.

Renters’ insurance protects your possessions in case of damage or disaster, meaning that you should seek out a policy around the time you sign the lease.

10. Renting an Apartment Sight Unseen

In an age of social distancing, it can be tempting to agree to rent a new property based on photos alone, or even a virtual showing. However, these things can be deceptive, and it’s always a safer bet to see a property in person. Touring the apartment gives you a better idea of the actual space, as well as the chance to spot any potential issues a tech-savvy scam artist may have wanted to hide.

11. Not Researching the Neighborhood

Apartments don’t exist as an island. The neighborhood where you settle can play a major role in your satisfaction with your new place, which is why it’s important to have an idea of the area beyond a surface-level glance.

Do a little research into the area’s crime rates and transportation options at a bare minimum. If you’re planning to stay a while, look into the school system and property values in the area as well. Try to also visit the area during the day and night to get a better sense of the atmosphere and noise level before you make a decision.

Avoid Common Apartment Hunting Mistakes

These apartment hunting mistakes are committed by rookies and veterans alike, and they’re easy to fall prey to. Instead, doing your due diligence and taking the time to double-check these tips before you sign on the dotted line can ensure your long-term satisfaction. Make the most of your hunt by avoiding these common errors!

Looking for more of the tips you need to help weigh the big decisions in life? We’ve got you covered. Jump over to our other guides for more insights.